Thursday, 21 June, 2018

Calgary company can capture Carbon dioxide at a cost of $94 per ton

A bottle of clean fuel made from carbon extracted from the air Carbon Engineering A bottle of clean fuel made from carbon extracted from the air
Guillermo Lane | 11 June, 2018, 14:57

An earlier estimate calculated that direct air capture (DAC) of carbon dioxide would be prohibitively expensive at least $600 per ton. The company has developed a process it calls Air To Fuels, which uses water electrolysis and fuels synthesis techniques to turn that pure Carbon dioxide into liquid hydrocarbon fuels.

A previous study carried out by the American Physical Society in 2011suggested that the cost per tonne of direct air capture would be around $600. It could instead extract carbon dioxide from the air without introducing any new carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. "This is real", he said.

Other experts welcomed the study as a step to clear up huge uncertainties about the costs of "direct air capture". Nonetheless, "We need enormous volumes of CO2 removal and to achieve that, we need accurate economic analysis and hard engineering data", said Julio Friedmann, CEO of Carbon Wrangler LLC and senior advisor at The Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute. These outcomes accelerate the shift to a "net zero" world that avoids the risks of climate change while affordably delivering clean energy.

She has been involved in a project in Iceland where Carbon dioxide from direct air capture is being turned into rock, deep underground. It started converting carbon dioxide into fuels a year ago. The plant has been capturing 1 t-CO2/day using giant fans to draw air through an aqueous solution of potassium hydroxide (KOH) coupled to a calcium caustic recovery loop.

The CO2 could be pumped into reserves underground, but Carbon Engineering wants to convert the CO2 into fuel.

Keith is also a founder along with chief scientist of Carbon Engineering, which is a Canadian firm that has been developing this technology. The potassium carbonate is converted into a calcium carbonate pellet, which when heated yields CO2. Those include the use of horizontally rather than vertically stacked structures, lower energy demands due to improved heat integration in the process, and the power sources selected to run the plant. It is now seeking funding to build an industrial-scale version of the plant, which Keith says it can complete by 2021.

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In 2011, a pair of influential papers all but sounded the death knell for direct air capture, concluding that the approach would cost almost an order of magnitude more than capturing the greenhouse gas from power-plant stacks.

While scientists have endeavoured to come up with numerous methods for removing CO2, by far and away the most effective process is Direct Air Capture (DAC). The H2 is then combined with Carbon dioxide to make liquid hydrocarbons using conventional chemical engineering technology. Commercialization of such plants would allow direct air capture to make a dent in transportation emissions by connecting low-cost renewable energy to low-carbon transportation fuels using Carbon Engineering's AIR TO FUELSTM pathway.

"It's very tough, and even tougher if the Carbon dioxide is from your most expensive source, which is the air", he says.

Carbon Engineering's plant in Squamish, B.C., now pulls about one tonne of carbon a day from the air and produces about two barrels of fuel.

"Until you really can confirm the costs and performance at scale, you've always got to take those costs with a grain of salt", he says. Still, Field cautions that the technology isn't a silver bullet for combatting climate change-there's no way yet to know whether it can scale up quickly enough to alter Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

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